Rail over-bridge replacement underway
The replacement of the one-lane timber rail over-bridge on Ruapehu Rd between Ohakune and Rangataua is due to get underway later this month with completion expected in around seven months in June 2023.
The bridge will be closed to all traffic for most of the construction period and people will be required to take alternative routes.
Executive Manager Infrastructure Vini Dutra said that there was a lot of preliminary work needed before work on replacing the actual bridge begins.
“Off-site the manufacturing of the steel superstructure and pre-casting of the bridge deck units is well underway and on-site preliminary work has started on moving near-by power poles to allow the large construction equipment to operate.
Work is also underway on preparing for the replacement of the near-by Mangateitei Rd rail over-bridge which will follow-on after the Ruapehu Rd bridge works are finished.
We are currently working with KiwiRail and The Lines Company to mover power lines impacting on the Mangateitei Rd bridge construction site,” he said.
Mayor Weston Kirton said that the replacement of both old wooden bridges was well overdue with their speed and weight safety restrictions having a significant impact on local growers and contractors with a flow-on impact on economic activity.
“Council has been working to replace these bridges for some time having budgeted our local share of the replacement cost in our last Long Term Plan.
Confirmation by Waka Kotahi NZTA that they would fund their share in a period of funding constraint and increased competition from other regional transport demands was well received locally.
It highlighted their careful consideration and understanding of the impacts that the bridge restrictions have been having on the community and wider economy," he said.
“Ideally Council would love to accelerate our bridge renewal program but without the co-investment from Waka Kotahi NZTA in these inflationary times when we have committed to meeting legislated water quality upgrades this just isn't possible.
This issue highlights the problem that many rural councils like Ruapehu are facing who have a number of old bridges built in the early half of last century to open up agricultural production that are now in need of replacement.
We are constantly needing to balance the need to renew infrastructure critical to keeping the economy open against affordability.
In our case we have a significant stock of 341 aged bridges including large culverts, the majority of which were built around 100 years ago, across a 350km road network of which two thirds is unsealed.
Multiply this situation across rural New Zealand there is likely to be a large bow wave of aging bridge stock vital to the economy that small rural councils cannot afford to renew under current funding arrangements,” he said.